So I managed to resolve the technical issues on the PC and cancelled my refund. Not that I necessarily regret that, but as someone who gave the game a fair chance, I was... underwhelmed. I'm bad at full-on reviews, so I'm just gonna get nitpicky on the story, cause that's what I was looking forward to:
Absolutely nothing about Infinite is really explained in the main course of the game. Sure, its covered by Episode Shadow and today's prequel comic, but why should be rely on tertiary media to explain the basis of the story? Destiny got blasted for doing that. Infinite seems kinda simplistic (got beaten by Shadow and decided to make himself more powerful), which is better than Mephiles I suppose. He wasn't very memorable to me, but he wasn't laughably bad either.
So when Sonic is released from the Death Egg, there's a bunch of other prisoners too. As far as we know, they don't escape alongside Sonic. So did they just get left there when the Resistance blew up the Death Egg later? Between this, losing "80% of our Forces" in 'Operation Big Wave' (cringe), the Resistance Fleet being all but wiped out in about 30 seconds, Rookie's squad getting slaughtered by Infinite, Shadow killing Team Jackal, and probably the final battle with the clones, this game has got to have the highest body count of any Sonic game to date (if only because Central City was evacuated in seconds before it was nuked in Shadow)
Classic Sonic. He's about as egregious as we expected. He barely serves any purpose other than being a proxy Sonic for Tails. He didn't even get many levels (none of which were any good). Didn't Iizuka say that Forces Classic Sonic and Generations Classic Sonic were different Classic Sonics? But then everyone recognizes him immediately, with a cheap Generations joke forced in (oh God I made one too). And Tails has this constant hard-on for him despite doing very little, tearful farewell and everything.
You can tell the point of the game was the Avatar. Infinite, the new big bad, probably does more with Avatar than anyone else, even Sonic. Avatar is the only character to get a consistent, coherent story arc, with overcoming his fear and facing Infinite. Despite how shallow the game feels, there's a ton of unlocks for Avatar accessories (not a fan of how you can't change the color of items and have to unlock different colorings, and the slot system doesn't let you match things like a jacket and scarf).
I knew this was never going to happen, but missed opportunity: Final boss rush of Perfect Chaos, Metal Overlord, Super Shadow, and Giant Zavok. We know the Phantom Ruby can create more clones, and if its overclocked like Eggman had done in the final boss, he could reasonably produce proxies of them that would still probably be weak enough to be defeated by the playable characters. But speaking of the villains...
What was the point of hyping up Chaos in the marketing? All the villains for that matter, but Chaos by far feels like the most egregious inclusion. I was afraid that Shadow was just going to be a cheap fanservice shoe-in, but he actually came out decently (more on that later). But Chaos... wow. He appeared twice. Once to beat on Sonic, then once again to be beaten on by Classic Sonic. Didn't even get a boss battle. I don't even remember if he was with the other clones in the final battle cutscene. Huge wasted potential there, especially because of how cool he looks with modern graphics.
Metal Sonic was just a one-off boss battle. He wasn't even mentioned anywhere else. Granted, he's Metal Sonic, its not like he's going to have deep motivations or character development (Heroes aside) and he wasn't even the orignal or a "real" Metal Sonic. Sonic even questions why Eggman made fake clones of Metal instead of the real one, which makes you wonder: Why doesn't he? If he can mass-produce Death Egg Robots, why not Metal Sonic (or even just an actual Metal Sonic)? And if Infinite can generate an infinite (OH NOW I GET IT) number of clones, what does going out of your way to destroy one accomplish?
Zavok: Out of all the villains in the rogues' gallery, Zavok was the only one (bar Eggman and Infinite and I guess technically Shadow) to have any real interaction with Sonic. That's just sad.
Shadow. Okay, its weird to say this, but ironically, this is probably the best characterization for Shadow we've gotten. I was half expecting his inclusion to be like in Generations: "This time, I will destroy you once and for all!" loses "Next time, I will destroy you once and for all!" leaves. He wasn't the total discount Vegeta we've been getting lately, he has a few decent lines of dialogue, and seeing him smile a few times was refreshing. And I think I'm finally starting to get used to his new VA. So I guess he's a plus for me, but really only in the sense that he wasn't offensive. He wasn't badly written or unlikeable, or as bad of a shoe-in as Chaos. Just... he didn't do much. You never get a Shadow boss battle. He spouts some exposition, but that's about it. But that's par for the course in this game, speaking of which...
Predictably, every character on the Hero side is just flat and boring. No real interactions or character moments or anything to make them stand out besides a few lines that just show their already-established character traits (ie, Amy crushing on Sonic, Espio being a ninja, Charmy being annoying). Silver is the Chaos of the Resistance, in that he does the least out of them despite his backstory having some weight to it. And again, if you want to know how he showed up in the first place, well, hope you've been following Twitter, because none of this is explained in the game either. Rouge doesn't even make a physical appearance until the very end of the game. While I'm at it, I gotta go back to Shadow here: None of the Resistance seems to know that the Shadow they're fighting is a fake, so where has he been for the past 6 months? We don't even get a "good to see you again" from Rouge, so does she know the truth about Shadow? And how exactly did Omega show up again? Last we saw of him, Tails (who has never interacted with Omega in any game) was trying to fix him unsuccessfully. Rouge comments on his last minute appearance, but you just don't get to do that when its handled that poorly. It just feels like the writers saying "Yep, we screwed this up."
Okay, I feel like this needs a separate point. A metric for writers I've learned is, when you look at your story, take a look at each character and imagine how the story would change if that character weren't present. Apply this to Forces and you see how bloated it feels. How would the story change if Amy were gone? It wouldn't. If Silver were gone? It wouldn't. The Chaotix? Nada. You can make points that some characters make some sort of discovery or something that advances the plot, but this usually feels forced and isn't handled well (ex: Rouge doing something with Eggman's archives and the Phantom Ruby? idk, cause I think Classic Sonic handled it anyways). Even Tails felt unnecessary. Basically anyone but Sonic himself and the Avatar were just irrelevant. And this all basically stems from....
Forces prioritizes spectacle over substance. "Eggman takes over the world!" offscreen. "There are Death Egg Robots everywhere!" in the background and you only fight one in a QTE as a lead-in to Metal Sonic. "The Death Egg is back!" and gets blown up about halfways through (seriously, how did they even destroy it? Sonic does some stuff with computers, Classic Sonic runs through it, and.... it explodes, I guess?). "Badass" QTEs galore. Plot points are picked up on and dropped constantly throughout the story, and it all just feels underwhelming. And that's the problem. Its not straight-up offensive like 06, Shadow, or parts of Lost World, its just lackluster on so many levels. It tries stuff, but doesn't commit to it, so while it doesn't crash and burn, it still falls flat. And the whole "power of friendship" is cheesy at best, cringeworthy at worst. Anyways, enough trying to be objective, back to nitpicking:
What happened to Infinite? Is he dead? Did he just loose the Phantom Ruby? Can he live without it? Who knows.
What happened to Eggman? Unleashed, Generations, and Lost World all made a point that he was still kicking after the game (no idea for Colors since I never played it). But Forces.... man, what even happened there? It was actually a pretty cool final boss (awfulness of the controls aside), but what the hell happened? The thing exploded out of the robot, was Eggman in that? Was he in it when it was destroyed? Did he get killed or trapped in Null Space? The Eggmobile is never seen flying away or anything, and there's no post-credits scene to clear it up. Supposedly there are PC files that indicate Super Sonic is going to make an appearance, so maybe there'll be a "true" ending at some point that wraps this up. Or maybe I'm just misinterpreting things. Lets go with that.
The Final Boss is not a Death Egg Robot. Just putting that out there. Could they literally not think of a better title? Even just "Phantom Death Egg Robot" would've made more sense. Again, I think it looks pretty cool, its just... lazy name. I think its a mashup of Death Egg, Egg Dragoon, and some of Eggman's Phantom Ruby suit in Mania with a coat of black paint.
Final battle: How many combinations of character features do they have, and the final scene is just a few character models reused over and over again? Hell, identical characters stand next to each other. There isn't a way to just randomize features, colors, and accessories for the characters in that scene?
Sonic and Avatar getting out of Null Space seconds after getting there is the definition of anticlimactic.
Characters keep referring to the "City." And the zone itself is named City. I'm starting to think there's really only one city on this planet.
Eggman's plan was to drop a sun on the world? While he's still on it? How are you going to "rebuild" on a planet that's been completely and utterly obliterated by a celestial body hundreds of times the mass of the planet?
"Tru dat" -Tails, 2017
I'll edit in more if I think of them. Not really gonna comment on gameplay.